It is no secret that Kobe Bryant is a bit of a perfectionist. His incessant competitive nature and determination to improve have been crucial in allowing the Los Angeles Lakers star to reach the top of the NBA, and stay there.
Whether it is demanding more from his teammates, going into insane detail on individual plays, or relentlessly practicing his own moves, Kobe Bryant has never rested on his laurels throughout his 17 years in the pros.
Something former teammate Tony Gaffney found out to his cost during his time on the Lakers roster during the 00s.
Gaffney, who spent time with the Lakers as part of their training camp squad ahead of the 2009-2010 season, revealed to Basketball Insider this week that during the summer of 2009 Kobe Bryant roped him in for some extra-curricular work outs.
"We're gonna start playing one-on-one," Bryant reportedly told Gaffney after apparently finding out that the then 24-year-old was "a defensive lockdown player."
Gaffney had little choice but to accept judging by the way he retells the story, and it meant plenty of early morning for the NBA wannabe.
"For about three weeks in a row, I was forced to show up hours before practice to play one-on-one against Kobe."
According to Gaffney, Kobe used to put restrictions on his own game as he looked to make improvements in his game. At times Bryant would go up against Gaffney only dribbling and his shooting with his weak hand whilst on other days he would only shoot inside the paint.
Quite the introduction to the pro league for a rookie like Gaffney that is for sure.
Kobe keeping his ball
And whilst Bryant must have appreciated his teammate's willingness to turn up day in day out, he wasn't quite generous enough to hand over the ball at any point.
"I never got to play offense," admitted the former Lakers man.
We assume Kobe Bryant had another rookie waiting in the wings to help Bryant out with the defensive side of his game.
Whilst Kobe clearly benefitted from the early morning sessions, going on to win the NBA title with the LAkers in 2010 as well as adding to the eleven All-Star honors he had to his name at the time.
As for Gaffney, even impressing one of the game's greats with his defensive skills wasn't enough to win him a Lakers contract, with the forward having gone on to spend the majority of his pro career playing in Europe.